Opportunity 180 Partners with Surge Institute to Launch Program in Southern Nevada

The Surge Academy, a national program that develops, elevates, and unites leaders of color within the education and youth-serving space, will be expanding to two new cities in 2022: Las Vegas and Philadelphia.

Designed by the Surge Institute, the Surge Academy program provides an intensive leadership experience, packed with powerful content that explores executive skills such as finance, strategic planning, and change management. In addition, throughout the program, fellows engage in a deep and unflinching dialogue about personal growth, trauma, and the true state of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the United States.

Mathew Mauricio Rojas (IND ‘21), an alum of the program and Assistant Professor of Practice at Relay Graduate School of Education, shares what he gained.

“Because of my experience with the Surge Academy, I now am a fuller version of myself,” Rojas said. “I feel confident in my leadership and don’t feel like I am asking for permission to be who I am becoming. I am now surrounded by people who believe in me and see me for who I was, am, and hope to be and know they will be there to support me.”

In September, thanks to a partnership with Opportunity 180, Surge will also start recruitment for a Las Vegas Surge Academy, which will develop, elevate and unite leaders in the city, as well as all of Clark County, Nevada.

“In an ongoing effort to strengthen and accelerate the pipeline of education leaders who represent the diversity of Southern Nevada, we are thrilled to partner with the Surge Institute team to provide the opportunity to launch the Las Vegas Surge Academy,” said Jana Wilcox Lavin, CEO of Opportunity 180. “The Academy is a momentous step forward in building out the region’s educational ecosystem to better reflect that diversity, and will have a significant impact on students, families, and our community.”

Originally launched in Kansas City, the six-month fellowship has grown into a signature program of the Surge Institute. To date, the Surge Academy has graduated three cohorts, two in Kansas City and one in Indianapolis respectively, totaling 44 leaders who have transitioned into Surge’s National Alumni Network of more than 200 leaders of color. More recently the Academy has kicked off a new cohort in Indianapolis and launched a new fellowship experience in Washington D.C.

Upon graduating from the Surge Academy, fellows maintain a deep connection to the Surge national movement, united in the purpose of building an equitable future for communities of color.

To learn more about applying to the Surge Academy, visit the Surge Academy homepage. Applications for the Las Vegas cohort will open in the fall.

Sign up for the Surge Institute’s Quarterly Newsletter and follow the Surge Institute and Surge Academy on social media to stay informed about upcoming events, news, and related developments.

About The Surge Institute:

The Surge Institute is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was established with a simple but important mission to develop and elevate leaders of color who create transformative change for children, families, and communities. Founded by Carmita Semaan in 2014, the organization was designed to empower emerging diverse leaders to change the landscape of education by providing them with a unique, authentic leadership development experience. To learn more about The Surge Institute, please visit: www.surgeinstitute.org

Nevada Ed-Watch 1/31/20

The Ed-Watch series is designed to increase access to information on what decisions are being made regarding public education in Clark County and Nevada.

State Public Charter School Authority (SPCSA)

What is the SPCSA & what are they responsible for? The SPCSA sponsors and oversees public charter schools across the State of Nevada. The Authority consists of nine appointed members responsible for overseeing educational and operational standards, and holding sponsored schools accountable to the academic achievement of students.

How often does the SPCSA Board meet? SPCSA members meet once monthly– on Fridays.

Click here for SPCSA meeting schedule and materials.

Can community members engage at SPCSA Board Meetings? All meetings are held publicly at the Nevada Department of Education building in Carson City and the Nevada Department of Education building in Las Vegas (1st floor boardroom). Members of the public are invited to attend at either location. A time for public comment is provided at the conclusion of each agenda item and at the conclusion of each Board meeting. There is a time limit of three minutes per speaker. Members of the community providing testimony must fill out a visitor card, available on-site the day of the meeting.

Alternatively, public comment may be submitted in writing at publiccomment@spcsa.nv.gov, and any such public comment received prior to the meeting will be provided to the Authority and included in the written minutes of the meeting.

Click here for a list of all SPCSA Members.

Click here for a list of all SPCSA sponsored schools.

Friday, January 31, 2020
State Public Charter School Authority Board Meeting

Click here to see the meeting agenda 

What happened at this meeting? 

SPCSA Executive Director’s Report: 

Report Highlights: 

  • Seven schools submitted applications for authorization in the 2019 Summer cycle. Two schools were approved. Five schools were denied, but resubmitted their applications. 
  • One school submitted an application for authorization in the 2020 Winter cycle. 
  • The SPCSA Executive Director presented to the Legislative Committee on Education about the SPCSA’s Needs Assessment, Growth Management Plan, and Strategic Plan. The committee will provide written feedback to the SPCSA regarding the plans.
  • The SPCSA is launching a “secret shopper” style project to enhance oversight of special education compliance through random, unannounced phone calls to schools. Callers will represent themselves as parents of students with disabilities. 

Board Approved the Annual Report for the Nevada Department of Education

The annual SPCSA report, required by statute, includes updates on the academic performance data for each SPCSA-sponsored school, organizational and financial performance frameworks, and federal funds disbursed to SPCSA-sponsored schools. 

Click here to see the annual report. 

Board Approved the Authorization of Girls Athletic Leadership School (G.A.L.S) 

The board approved staff recommendations to authorize G.A.L.S with conditions. The G.A.L.S application returned to the SPCSA board through an appeal process outlined in the document linked below. G.A.L.S will serve 6th grade students for the 2020-2021 school year, and grow into a full 6-8th grade school by the 2022-2023 school year.  

Click here to see the staff recommendation and conditions. 

Board Approved Four (4) Charter School Renewals

The board approved the renewal of the 4 schools listed below. Click each school name to see the recommendation memo provided by SPCSA staff.

Board Heard an Update on Pinecrest Academy of Northern Nevada 

SPCSA staff members have been working closely with the Pinecrest team on efforts to serve a student population that is reflective of the community. SPCSA staff and members of the Pinecrest team shared updates on establishing a weighted lottery, securing a free lunch program, and launching targeted marketing and outreach for student enrollment. The school team is also working out the details related to transportation. It was noted that family enrollment can be determined by access to transportation. 

Board Heard a Presentation Overview of SPCSA-Sponsored Charter Schools

SPCSA staff presented an overview of SPCSA-sponsored public charter schools. The presentation included a summary of Nevada School Performance Framework (NSPF) results, graduation rates, and demographic information as compared to statewide and school district data.

Click here to see the presentation.

The Board Discussed Updates to the Board Calendar

Schools that received a Notice of Breach will present updates to the board during the March meeting. Performance data for Beacon Academy under the Alternative Performance Framework will also be available in March.

Board Approved Staff Recommendation to Deny Renewal of Nevada Connections Academy Middle and High School Charter Contract (4-1) 

Nevada Connections Academy (NCA) is an online school currently serving students in grades K-12. When assessing NCA’s application for renewal, SPCSA staff considered the academic, organizational and financial performance of the school– putting the largest weight on the academic performance, as required in statute. In the past three years, the elementary and high school programs have not received a rating above 1-star. While the middle school earned an adequate 3-star rating for the 2016 -17 school year, the two most recent ratings are below 3-stars.  

NCA staff provided testimony that outlined why they believe the school should not close. Highlights included: 

  • 2017 Nevada School Performance Framework (NSPF) ratings and subsequent years’ ratings are not comparable due to changes in measures
  • Students that attend NCA are highly mobile or transient, which the school is working to address 
  • Students that attend NCA enroll in the school with credit deficiencies
  • The school is actively working to address student social-emotional learning
  • The school has outlined intervention plans for middle and high school deficiencies 

After extensive presentations from SPCSA staff, Nevada Connections Academy (NCA) staff, and public comment from families– the board voted to deny the renewal of Nevada Connections Academy’s charter contract for their middle and high schools. NCA did not seek renewal for their elementary school, which will close at the end of the 2019-2020 school year. 

Click here to see the SPCSA memo regarding NCA’s renewal. 

Click here to download Nevada Connections Academy’s presentation. 

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